Hervé Morin’s energy efficiency bill

electricity consumption, energy efficiency, law, Hervé Morin

On 29 April 2014, Hervé Morin[1] introduced a bill for the promotion of energy efficiency that aims at funding and simplifying energy saving schemes, therefore demonstrating that it is worth tapping into this underexploited potential. While France set itself ambitious energy efficiency goals, it is struggling to create a shift in user behaviour, be it on the part of households, businesses or even local authorities.

As part of the recently updated EU energy-climate package, France pledged to improve energy efficiency by at least 20% by 2020; the French government is thus currently working on a new energy bill. Mr Morin’s initiative is particularly timely as it will contribute to the discussion. With the help of regions and the EU, he hopes to get everyone on board in order to encourage a shift in behaviours.

Mr Morin’s innovative bill proposes the establishment of a sovereign fund that would ensure the sustainability of the third-party financing scheme that was created by the recent Housing and Urban Planning Act (ALUR). The fund is to be financed partly by the yet to be secured nuclear decommissioning fund, partly by an additional levy on nuclear operators, as well as by the Caisse des dépôts and the Banque publique d’investissement.

This energy efficiency fund will therefore not cost a single cent in public money, which, given the current state of the economy, will allow French people to save money without increasing public spending. The bill’s first goal is to overcome legal obstacles that hinder the development of energy efficiency, rather than increase expenditures. There are still plenty of these legal hurdles: in his explanatory statement, Mr Morin laments that the public procurement code forbids delayed payment, thus hampering the development of energy performance contracting in public buildings.

Besides, the bill also aims at simplifying and encouraging the use of energy saving certificates (CEE), so that everyone gains a better understanding of the consequences of their energy choices on their energy bill. Furthermore, if Mr Morin’s bill were signed into law, the scope of the 2005 sustainable development tax credit (CIDD) for households purchasing energy efficient equipment or construction materials would also include solar equipment. Energy active management and storage might also be eligible for tax relief.

Parallel to those legal provisions, Mr Morin’s bill proposes two experimental schemes. A bonus-penalty scheme would be tested on commercial buildings “taking into account the kind of final energy use as well as the energy intensity of each business sector”, and regional authorities would be granted the right to carry out experiments on their own energy governance, in order to foster the development of local energy supply chains better adapted to each region’s situation.

Following its introduction, the bill was referred to the National Assembly’s committee on economic affairs. With the help of the UDI group (Union of Democrats and Independents), it should be discussed in plenary session in November. According to Hervé Morin, his bill will “stimulate innovation in energy efficiency technologies and encourage their dissemination, which will help protect the environment, create jobs and boost competitiveness.”

[1] Leader of the New Centre party and member of the National Assembly of France for Eure (Normandy)

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